Illustration by Ria Chockalingam
3D Modeling: A New Approach to Art
September 26, 2020
Generally, when we think of art, traditional mediums like painting, theater, and writing come to mind. However, there is another dynamic realm of art that goes largely unnoticed, especially among teenage artists. Over the past few decades, computer-generated 3D art has substantially evolved: from blocky, mechanical objects to realistic replications of entire cities and worlds, integrating film and animation. I mean, have you watched the Transformers movies? When you overlook all the plot holes and cringe-worthy characters, the 3D graphics shape the films as art pieces.
The simplest explanation of 3D modeling is using specialized software to create virtual objects and surfaces. I know you might be yawning reading that definition but trust me, the creativity and satisfaction involved in the process of 3D art is wholly more interesting. And there is never a shortage of demand for 3D art; many fields of work rely on 3D models such as product recreation for advertisement, 3D tours for real estate, rendering for architecture, and, of course, characters for video games.
Many shy away from 3D art since it can appear convoluted yet many softwares are surprisingly simple to use for beginners. 3D modeling programs are now easily accessible by anyone no matter their financial situation or experience with art. Outlined below are some of the easiest 3D modeling softwares, in my opinion, to learn:
- Completely free and open source
- Perfect for beginners
- Extremely popular
- Abundant of information online
2. 3ds Max
- Student free trial for three years, but it’s recommended to purchase a renderer
- Millions of tutorials on YouTube
- Designed more for architecture
3. Cinema 4D
- Simple interface yet provides complex tools
- Free license for students
- Beautiful and straight-forward rendering
- Perfect for animating and rendering
Dealing with perspective while creating 2D art can be difficult enough so adding a 3rd dimension and thousands of tools can make 3d modeling very challenging. To begin working with these programs, I highly recommend watching any YouTube tutorials that walk you through the layout of each program. Experts like BlenderGuru and InspirationTuts on YouTube can provide much more information than a paid course. To this day, I have not spent a dime learning 3D modeling. In my freshman year, instead of paying for overpriced classes, I would dedicate hours each day to learn different software through free online courses and videos. Even though this medium can be more challenging than traditional forms of art, with persistence and dedication nearly anyone can learn.
If you would rather not design your own assets, there are millions of free downloadable 3D models on websites like Sketchfab or TurboSquid. Once you import models into projects, they are fully customizable and can be added into any desirable program. This feature is very useful if you are interested in interior design or creating environments for games. Embedded below are some of my favorite models uploaded on Sketchfab. [Drag to rotate model]
3D art comes with many strengths and shortcomings but I highly encourage anyone interested in art or technology to try 3D modeling at least once. In the future, I hope to see more people around me learning 3D modeling, whether it’s learned as a personal hobby or a subject in class.